• Buying a new car? Deals on Wheels*

    What are you looking for in an upgrade? Heated seats, more luggage space perhaps? Whatever it is you’re looking for in a new car, you need to know you’re getting the best value for money and that’s why I am bringing you a short and snappy guide to successful forecourt negotiation and how to drive a hard bargain and get real value for money.

    A little research goes a long way

    You might have exactly the make, model and year in mind when thinking about your new purchase, in which case get online. Look at the average price of your new car and hit up some comparison sites to see similar vehicles that might make good alternatives. Arm yourself with a little knowledge and you’re ready for the dealership.

    Have in mind three figures: the absolute top line of what you can afford, the price you’d like to pay and a price you could live with (somewhere between the two). Stick to these figures like glue and if you do find yourself edging towards the last figure, make sure you’re getting some great extras thrown in to sweeten the deal.

    In the same way you have a top line, also consider what you absolutely must have in your new car. If space was an issue, then you have to go for a bigger boot and yes you’d be prepared to give up the heated steering wheel.

    Image from Pexels

    Act confidently

    You may not feel it but talk to your sales representative with confidence. You’re the customer and they’re keen to make a sale but it has to be on your terms and your terms only. Politely but firmly decline any invitations to upgrade to a model outside of your reach and be clear on what you’re looking for.

    The price they offer, whether to pay at once or with a loan agreement, is not necessarily their final offer. Don’t be afraid to bargain hard and see if you can get some numbers shaved off. If you can’t, then ask what extras might also be included, for example a year’s free servicing or a deal on insurance. Consider a test drive, such as the AMG Test Drive Weekend Mercedes AMG Test Drive Weekend 25-28 May.

    Lastly, walk away. If you’re not getting anywhere and feeling like you’re being pressured to sign on the dotted line, simply walk away from the conversation. They are not the only dealership out there and don’t have a monopoly on your money. Treat the experience as a learning curve and know better how to deal with pressure selling next time.

    Go into the next conversation better prepared and ready to say a hard no when necessary. Shop around and you’ll find the right deal at the right price before long.

    With a little perseverance and by sticking to your guns, you’ll be driving off the forecourt with a great bargain, safe in the knowledge that you paid what it’s worth and got that luggage space you so desperately needed.

    *collaborative post

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    Eight Major Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Home*

    Buying a home is incredibly overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. While it is certainly an exciting process at times, it is also quite daunting. After all, a house is the biggest purchase most people make in their whole lives but is nothing like any other financial transaction you will have faced. Because of this unfamiliarity, many first-time buyers sabotage their search and sale by making easily avoidable errors. With that in mind, here are eight mistakes you should know of.

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    1. Buying Before You’re Ready

    If there’s one decision in life that shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s buying a home. This is one of, if not the biggest transaction you will ever make, and, as such, is sure to affect you for the rest of your life. For this reason, you must ensure that you’re ready to purchase a property before you jump into the process. If you plan to move in the near future or don’t have the funds, then you should hold back for a while. Renting can be frustrating, but the flexibility it offers is beneficial.

    2. Not Getting Pre-Approved

    When trying to determine how much money you can borrow, online mortgage calculators can be a lot of help. However, just because this tool says you should get approved for a certain amount size loan, it doesn’t mean that you will be. Thousands of loan applications are denied every single year for a variety of reasons. Because of this, you should get your loan pre-approved before you start house hunting. This puts you in the best position to begin negotiations.

    3. Forgetting The Extra Expenses

    Unbeknownst to many inexperienced buyers, the loan you borrow when buying a house doesn’t actually cover the entire cost doing so. There are many extra expenses that you will have to cover yourself, including stamp duties, loan application fees, valuation costs, and more. You’ll also need to cough up for a downpayment on the property, as well as consider the cost of moving and decorating. When you start house hunting, you need to save for these expenses.

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    4. Failing To Research Location

    Buying a home is about so much more than just the building itself. You may love the property that you’re looking at, but, if the neighbourhood isn’t up to scratch, then you might not enjoy your time living there. Because of this, you should spend some time researching locations, as well as individual properties, to find a place you truly love. Make sure that everything from the quality of schools to the crime levels is at a standard that you are happy with.

    5. Settling Out Of Desperation

    The house hunting process can easily go on for months or even years, causing many buyers to become frustrated. Rather than purchase a home you don’t want, just because you’ve become desperate, you should give yourself a break before you start hunting again. If you continue to struggle to find a home that you’re happy with, then consider working with housebuilders, like Redrow. This allows you to choose fittings, fixtures, and other details that are important to you.

    6. Using The Seller’s Agent

    A real estate agent can make the property buying process a whole lot easier, as well as save you money along the way. That being said, this may cease to be true if you choose to use the seller’s agent as your own. This would be like allowing your ex-partner’s lawyer to dictate your divorce settlement. While it’s incredibly beneficial to have an estate agent in your corner, you must make sure that yours truly is. This means spending time shopping around for the right one.

    7. Skipping The Professional Inspection

    Taking a look around a property can certainly tell you a lot about it, but, unless you’re a professional inspector, you might not notice subtle, yet incredibly serious issues. Home inspections can be costly, which is why many home buyers try to avoid them. However, as pricey as they can be, the time, money, and worry they can potentially save you are invaluable. Without a home inspection, you might pay out for a house that you can’t even live in.

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    8. Neglecting Your Own Finances

    As important as it is to get pre-approved for your mortgage, having this approval doesn’t guarantee that you will get one. Lenders look at credit reports right before settlement, just to make sure that the borrower’s financial situation hasn’t changed. This means that, if you’ve switched jobs or made a big purchase since applying for your loan, it could put your plans in jeopardy. To prevent this, you should try to keep your circumstances exactly the same.  

    Buying a home is a huge transaction, so make sure that you do it the right way and avoid the mistakes above.

    *collaborative post

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    Important Aspects To Think About When Buying A Home*

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    When the time comes to move house, you often become somewhat overawed with all of the different facets of purchasing a place and all of the responsibilities that come along with it. You’ve worked hard for a long time, and you’ve prepared mentally for the strain of it all, but now the preparing has begun, and you need to think long and hard about what you want. The ideal scenario is to have a massive place with little hassle and a quick process. But we live in the real world, and we all know that there are fine details that need ironing out. If you’re not too sure about what to consider, let’s take a look at a few things.  

    Where?

    Some people have a specific idea in their head that they’ll stubbornly stick with. They’ll want to live close to family or maybe move to a place they’ve always wanted to go to. This is a big move in your life so you’ll want it to be the right area and not just the right house.

    Is It Close To Work?

    When moving, you’ll obviously want to move to a place where you can commute to and from work conveniently as that’s one of the big priorities in life. If you’re fortunate enough to work from home, then it’s not something to consider greatly, but you may still need to meet with bosses and clients so it shouldn’t be neglected altogether.

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    What Type Of Home Do You Want?

    There are a bunch of different types of homes to look for. You’ll want what’s best for you and your family. You can look on the internet to research what will be the most convenient for your current situation. If you’re looking for a small place, you could get a bungalow, or if you’re looking to rent a home, you could look up websites such as Meriton and seek out an apartment. Again, this is going to be a big step so you’ll have to give it a thorough inspection

    What Style?

    This should be the more fun side of house hunting. You’ll want to move into the best-looking place you can find, or, at least, the most perfect-looking place that suits you. There are dozens of designs when it comes to the housing world, so you won’t be wandering through a monotonous territory. You may even fall in love with a certain look!

    The Neighbourhood

    Finally, and this might be a harsh aspect, but you’ll want to look into what the places are like socially. The behaviour of the residents in a prospective place should probably be analysed before you make a snap decision as you don’t want to move into a place that you’ll immediately regret due to crime or unrest.

    You probably have many other thoughts and anxieties in your lives that surround your house-hunting, and that’s understandable. But these, along with your own questions, should help you out in your journey.

    *collaborative post

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    Buying our forever home – House Buying Series

    I recently asked a poll on twitter about what content you would like to see and Buying our House came out on top.

    house twitter poll

    I don’t use twitter polls as much as I should and even though my engagement on twitter has been very sparse lately, it’s nice to see that people who follow me have been keen to respond (thank you so much for that, really means a lot).

    Buying a house is the largest purchase people are going to make in their lifetime. It’s not something that in my early 20’s I thought I ever really wanted to do. Renting meant I never had to pay for repairs and I was OK with not having to think about decorating a landing.

    It’s weird how things shift though when you get in to your 30’s. Priorities change. Your relationships are more secure, you could even be married and you realise how owning your own home, one you could see yourself getting old in, is really quite an exciting addition to your life.

    When I met Claire in 2014 she was already in her own house. At that time I was still paying off debts from my 20’s and I was excited to contribute to a house that had a mortgage.

    We decided that I wasn’t going to go on the mortgage, my debts had left a bit of a crummy mark on my credit history and I was waiting to pay them off and wait a little while (to save mainly) before even thinking of trying for a mortgage.

    Getting married helped me feel more secure about our home too. Did you know that marrying someone with a home means you are no longer a 1st time buyer? This meant, by law, I was co-owner of this home. Even though I wasn’t on the mortgage deeds. I mean it’s a good job I trust my wife because she could have just sold it from under my feet but I know her and she doesn’t feel like it has come to that yet (fnar fnar).

    I loved our little 2 up 2 down home and it has been a great starter home. We currently live around 2 miles away from all of Claire’s family and although it’s not that far, none of them really drive so they never visit.

    It’s something I know Claire would love and since losing my Mum the closeness I feel for my in-laws is strong. Some people would say living closer to your in-laws is a no-no. However, I am really lucky that mine are amazing and great fun to be with so it really would be nicer to live a few streets away rather than, what feels like, another dimension.

    What you will see in the series

    As mentioned, the idea of owning a home can be quite overwhelming. It’s a lot of money and you are paying it off for about a 3rd of your life. Houses are a never ending money pit and dependent on where you live it may feel like a life time away.

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    Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

    I want to bring you series of the process so far in buying a house and beyond. We are currently in the process of completion and we will be moving in around 8-10 weeks so I feel I can share with you what has happened so far and then the progress.

    The posts will include:

    1. The deposit, saving or otherwise
    2. Searching for the right mortgage
    3. Choosing your house and what to ask
    4. Fees and what to expect
    5. What insurances do you need
    6. The moving process
    7. Selling a house
    8. Decorating on a budget
    9. Finding good maintenance and repair services
    10. Finishing touches, themes and ideas

    These 10 are a starting point so please let me know if you want to know anything else?

    Please note: The opinions and advice I share will be from my experience only. I am not a financial advisor so always seek advice from professionals.

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    Twenty Side Hustle Goals to take me to 2020

    I am a bonefide queen of the side hustle idea but not really managed to implement it enough that I am making any money I have to declare (profit baby, profit). This year I want that to change.

    As I mentioned in my previous blog post about growing my side hustle, I am going to utilise the things I already have worked on and started, rather than reinvent the wheel. The two areas I want to grow are my blog and my eBay business.

    Blog Goals

    1. Rebranding my blog

    I didn’t really have a theme or a blog look or even a logo so I wanted to rebrand (keep the name, I still love that) but maybe get a logo. Which I did!

    **GOAL 1 ACTUALLY ACHIEVED**

    2. Finding my niche

    It seems like there is only one way to grow your blog in to something profitable and it is to find out what YOU are about. I always blogged about stuff I liked and feelings I felt. I don’t want to lose that but I want to really focus my energies in the right places. I have twitter and insta stories to be as free with my opinions and thoughts as possible so my blog will be more focussed. I would like to have a clear niche identity by 2020.

    3. Finding my audience

    I think finding my niche will help with finding and growing my audience. I would love to be able to connect with others that are interested in the things I write in my blog.

    4. Creating an email subscription

    I have just started an eCourse which Vix Meldrew put together about how to create and grow an email list. I would like to put her tips in to practice and start to create something that keeps people engaged.

    5. Growing my subscription

    Once my email list has been created I want to grow this. My starting point is 0 so even having 1 person subscribe would be awesome. This would definitely be achievable. So I think I would like to have a list of 100 by 2020. I may have to revise that if I realise it’s too big but I have nothing to really benchmark it against.

    6. Targetting 5 brands I would like to work with

    Once all of the above starts to take shape I would like to reach out to 5 brands. Pitching my blog and some good ideas. I am not sure who they are and they will be. I am moving house soon and I am going to be decorating and one of my favourite brands is Homesense / TK Maxx so I would love to reach out to them. I would also maybe like to reach out to some budget home styling places as I truly believe that things should be affordable.

    7. Developing a profitable blog plan

    This side hustle is combining something I like to do for fun and the fact I could be making some money from it. I would like to create a plan of how my content will be and how I could earn some profit from it. If it works, I would like to be able to share with others.

    8. Land my first brand collaboration

    Pitching to 5 brands I would hope that I would land at least one that would be perfect for the blog niche and my readers. I would hope that this would be the start of a good working relationship which will help to develop other brand collaborations in 2020.

    9. Develop my affiliate link earnings

    I have used affiliate links before but I don’t ALWAYS do it and I don’t always think to do it. I want this to be a good way to earn money consistently.

    10. Earn my first £1000 from my blog

    This is a HUGE goal for me. I don’t know if it is possible in our first year but I would love to do this. I know that as a side hustle this isn’t much to keep me afloat but as I am starting from 0 I want to have this as a target that would grow.

    Ebay Goals

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    Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

    11. Get to 500 listings in my shop

    I get 500 free listings and so far I use around 350. I have found it hard to grow to 500 as there isn’t enough room for the stock where we have it now.

    12. Open 2 new shops on ebay

    I currently sell clothing in my shop but I love bric a brac and I also come across some nostalgic toys that I know are good money earners so I would like to open two new shops that house those items.

    13. Make £1000 profit a month

    I have been spending what I make since I started because you have to grow your shop. I would like to start to make cool profit now to make sure I earn something to help save for some of the house improvements I have in mind.

    14. Grow my shop followers

    I would like to make my shop somewhere for people to come and browse, not just buy one thing and leave. I want to make it somewhere people really return to rather than buy one.

    15. Diversify my pricing

    I would like to have a better pricing structure. I would like to have a good mixture of affordable and key pieces that are designer and expensive to really boost sales.

    16. Stock catalogue

    I started to catalogue my stock and it became a huge task because I tried it a way I thought would be easy. Because the stock is different – no one item the same – it means cataloguing it is difficult. I need to find a better way so it makes it easier to find it. (I have lost items more than once…eek!)

    17. Improve the customer experience

    As soon as someone orders something I find the item and put it in a poly bag and send. I would like my customers to remember me and really give GREAT feedback – not just good. I would like to come up with an idea that improves their experience.

    18. Set up a great photo station

    At the moment I use a wall in a bedroom but I want my photo’s to stand out. The clothes are of various sizes so I want to display them differently. I have seen some people style their items or flat lay them. I would like to set something up that really captures each item at it’s best.

    19. Create a schedule

    I want to keep organised. I would like to keep my evenings and weekends as free as possible to do all the actual life things I have to do and spend time with the wife of course. The schedule will help me to keep listings live. It has been proven that listing little and often keeps you high on the algorithm (yes ebay has one too, grrr). I want to maximise this opportunity through a proper laid out schedule.

    20. Share best practice

    I want to be able to share with others the successes of my side hustle in ebay. I would be keen to create a series about it. So if anyone is interested in this please let me know through social media or in a comment.

    So there you go. These are my goals.

    Have you got a side hustle and what are your goals?

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